New Life Church celebrated the introduction of a new educational partnership between NLC and Ouachita Baptist University Tuesday.

Gathered around a modest podium stood the group of NLC and OBU leaders proud of their achievements. Rick Bezet, lead pastor of New Life Church started the celebration by explaining the vision to “provide a place where young people can be educated and learn the things of God,” said Bezet.

After many months of deliberation the ribbon cutting to commemorate the hard work of both groups was had. NLC and OBU will offer Associate of Arts degrees in general studies and Christian ministry. The NLC location offers students a unique ability to interact with pastoral staff mentors and to enjoy hands-on ministry experience.

"This program offers a unique opportunity in the city of colleges: a chance to receive a world-class Christian education in the context of a life-giving local church,” said Dr. Brandon O’Brien, coordinator of OBU at NLC partnership, “Our admitted students have excelled academically in their previous studies and have demonstrated a commitment to ministry in the local church.”

O’Brien is the nephew of Bezet and a graduate of OBU.

The degree program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and supported by the OBU Board of Trustees.

“We wanted to bring together the tradition of Ouachita and the innovative and life changing ministry of New Life Church,” said O’Brien. “We want the programs to be affordable, so with the help of our sponsors we have developed competitive scholarships for our first year students.”

The degrees will be "equipping the next generation of church leaders with a Christian education has been part of the NLC vision from the beginning,” said Bezet. “We are honored to be partnering with such a prestigious institution to make that vision a reality."

This is the first step for the OBU at NLC campus, “our goal will be to offer a full schedule of those [core] classes as well as a full schedule of electives that will transfer to even state schools in the area,” said O’Brien, “We’re really trying to make it a hybrid program to bring together the OBU liberal arts background and New Life’s innovative ministry efforts.”
The leaders of NLC approached the OBU administration less than a year ago only a few years following a recreation of the mission statement and strategic plan of the university. Stan Poole, vice president for academic affairs spoke on behalf of the aministration and faculty from OBU.

“We have teamed up with NLC to provide transformative education. Higher Education changes rapidly and we need to focus on faithfulness to continue working through the word of God and with foresight to see what is coming and be innovative,” said Poole.

A press release from the OBU at NLC team stated, “The 7,000-square-foot facility to be dedicated is being remodeled specifically for OBU at NLC classes and administrative offices. It is located on the Conway campus of New Life Church at 633 South Country Club in Conway. A second phase to construct a permanent facility on the Conway NLC campus currently is in the planning stages.

When asked about the renovations, Bezet stated, “we are right on track.”